5 Days of Discipling Your Kids: Cultivating Your Child's Worldview

Well, here we are on the last day of our mini series on discipling your kids. While this is the last TOS Crew blog hop post, I will still be continuing on through May on this series here. I've still got some more topics to discuss, like praying for your kids' spiritual journey, discipleship through books, other spiritual disciplines to build into your kids, and looking ahead to the next growth stages. So while the blog cruise is over, I'm still sailing on to the next port! So this week, we've talked about life skills, work and vocation, service and ministry, and gender roles so far. Today, I thought I'd venture into discussing how we can take advantage of the things going on today to develop a God- centered worldview.

What's A Worldview Anyway?

This week, I had an opportunity to listen to Jonathan Weslowski's workshop, "46 Million Dead: Why Worldview Matters" (from the Ultimate Homeschool Expo 2009 set). I have been working on planning for my kids' school year and came across this session. I took copious notes and am sharing some of the things I learned from him in this post.

So what is a worldview? According to Summit Ministries, a worldview is "a set of beliefs, whether you know it or not, that determine your view of and for the world." Like a pair of glasses, it impacts how we see the world around us. If we wear rose-tinted glasses, everything we look at will have a pinkish tint to it.

Why Should I Think About Worldview?

Our world views, Christian or not, will impact not only how we see the world, but it will also impact our values and consequently our actions. Everything in our culture around us has an inherent worldview attached to it. The job for us as parents is to help our kids to identify the root belief and compare it to God's Word.

Now I know this can potentially open a can of worms. There is Scripture that tells us to focus our minds on what is pure, noble, upright, etc. (Phil. 4:8). Should we as parents be exposing our kids to things that are ungodly? For example, back in March, The Hunger Games came out in the theaters. Should we be letting our kids see a movie like this, whose plot is clearly disturbing? (If you don't know what it's about, think Lord of the Flies. It runs along that line.)

My husband and I thought about this for awhile before we decided to let our teen daughter read the book. But before we gave it to her, we read it first. As parents, I believe it is our responsibility and right to preview anything our kids want to read, even if all their friends are reading it.

Our purpose in reading the book was so that we could have a platform for discussing the book later with her. We feel she is old enough to read it. She has already read Lord of the Rings and other rather gory books and after reading it ourselves, thought it would be okay. Fortunately, she is not into horror literature in general, but if she was, I would be very careful about feeding that appetite in her. Use your best judgment to determine if it is appropriate and wise for your children to read particular culturally popular books (like the Harry Potter series, Twilight saga, etc.). If you find them drawn to this kind of literature purely for the violence or witchcraft, as a parent, we really need to get in there and engage with them. Books shape minds. And if we do not watch out, they may end up shaping them in a way that we do not intend.

With that said, however, I do not believe in hiding our kids from popular culture either. If Jesus wanted us to be completely sheltered, He would not have left us here in the world. In John 17, he prays, "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one." (v. 15) Instead, Jesus has left us here so that we might send us out into the world that we might sanctify it (v. 17-18). That is what I want my kids to be able to do. But that will be difficult if they are completely unaware of what is going on.

Our Choices

As believers, we can look at our culture and turn up our noses and hide. We can gather in a holy huddle and become self-righteous. But we will also not become a part of the solution that Jesus prays for. Or we can go the other direction---get wrapped up in it so that we no longer are salt and light. If our kids are not equipped to engage with the world around them in a thoughtful way, they could very easily get sucked up into it. Neither of these is what Jesus intended.

But there is a third option, and that is wisely engaging with our culture, and teaching our kids how to evaluate it. As with a lot of discipleship, this will require us to think about things ourselves too. Too often, we are so worried about whether there are cuss words, sex or violence in movies that we neglect the bigger things. Remember, Lion King is rated G, but it definitely has got a worldview in it! (Could you tell what it is?) 

As parents, we have to go deeper. We have got to be thinkers. A lot of ungodly teaching can br wrapped up in the latest top ten singles on the Billboard charts, popular novels, and latest flicks. And yet at the same time, these can also be the avenues that are perfect for training our kids to think and evaluate. Unless we do, our kids will not be able to distinguish them on their own, making them easy prey in the future.

How Can We Cultivate A Godly Worldview?

Now I know that in homeschooling circles, just as in any given group of parents, there will be some who shy away from movies altogether, and I don't think that's a wrong thing to do. After all, it is said that the best way to detect counterfeit bills is not to study fake bills but to study the real ones. Likewise, if we want our kids to have a strong Christian worldview, we need to have them study it and not meddle with media. That is true. We need to make sure our kids are getting a strong foundation in the word and in doctrine.

However, for us, especially in metropolitan southern California where we live, our kids are bound to run up against some differing views and beliefs. We want to be able to give our kids the tools and ability to identify and think through their beliefs as well as articulate what they do believe. In our part of the country, it is essential.

We didn't start this until our kids had a strong grasp on the basics of the Bible. This was core. But by the time they were in first grade, the kids had already heard Greek and Roman myths and legends as well as about their gods and goddesses.

What is important is how we present them. Instead of reading them as fact, we began to compare and contrast them. How are these gods different from our God? The same is true when we talked about world religions later on. How do Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist beliefs differ? What makes Christianity unique? When they were young, we kept pointing them back to Scripture and showing God's supremacy.

As they get older, we talk about secular humanism, deism, atheism, and other ways of interpreting life. Our desire is that our kids will be able to know and recognize these worldviews when they come across them. We will also need to equip them with Scripture that speaks otherwise. God's word is the standard that we always use to compare and measure these philosophies.

This is a lifelong process, but if we do not disciple our kids to see these world views, they are prime targets for the enemy. Like the weak, old, or sick in a pack, they will be the first to fall.

But on the positive side, when our kids have a strong Christian world view, they also can impact culture as well. Our world needs men and women who love God, love people, and desire to be salt and light to impact the communities in which they live and work. When we train our kids to engage effectively with their culture, the Lord can use them to reach people for the kingdom. But they need to know how to do that first.

Start with a Movie

If you're just starting out, you don't need any special curriculum. Movies are great because you can watch an entire story in one sitting. The key is to not just walk off when it's done. Instead, take the time to process the following five questions with your kids afterwards (I got these from Jonathan Weslowski):

  • Origin: where did I come from?
  • Identity: who am I?
  • Meaning: what's my purpose?
  • Morality: how should I live?
  • Destiny: where am I going when I die?

When you learn to evaluate age-appropriate movies with your children at a young age, it trains them to start thinking. After you tackle some movies, or if you don't want to watch movies, move on to books, music, television advertisements, billboards, newspaper articles, and so on. Pre-screen and think ahead before showing it to your kids. Come up with some good questions. Look at it as a learning opportunity. Remember, you don't need to have all the answers. Just be there to ask the questions and point your children to God.

If you don't think this is a big deal, consider this: the atrocities of the Holocaust were rooted in a worldview that can be traced to Darwin. Abortion is the outcome of a worldview that sees an embryo as a mass of tissue. World views are extremely important. They are often subtle and hidden, which is why need to teach our kids how to recognize them. Through the media, ungodly beliefs are presented in an appealing manner. If we are not careful, we will take it in, hook, line and sinker.

But let's not stop at that. Let's go the extra mile and help our kids to build a solid Christian worldview so they can engage with their culture and impact it for Jesus. He left us in this world to do that. It is one thing to critique and criticize. It is another thing to look on compassion for those who are lost and believe these lies. In the midst of our teaching, let us not neglect to cultivate a heart of compassion.

Will we rise to the challenge?

Resources:

Summit Ministries comes highly recommended by homeschooling families. They offer two-week summer and semester long programs. I am personally investigating the homeschool curriculum for my daughter when she hits her senior year in high school.

Impact 360 is a 9 month long "gap year" (post high school/before college year) program. They combine worldview training, leadership training and missions experience. If your student is not sure what to do or will graduate early, this is a program to look into.

If you are looking for something less expensive, you may wish to consider Art of Eloquence and their communication programs for junior and senior high schoolers, specifically Say What You Mean: Debating the Issues and Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith. There are also programs for elementary school age kids as well so check it out!  

Focus on the Family's Plugged In ministry reviews various media (music, movies, video games,etc.) for your kids. They have many parent resources on their Movie Nights site that could be a good starting point for your own worldview discussion.

I am not an affiliate for any of these programs. I am just passing on resources that any parent, homeschooler or not, may wish to consider to supplement their training.

Now it's your turn!

How have you handled exposing your kids to our culture today?

What are some of the methods you use? Feel free to comment below!

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Thank you so much for stopping by this week!